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North Grove Equestrian Park Story
Equine enthusiasts will find a friendly greeting at the impressive North Grove Equestrian Park. Nestled among the rolling hills east of Oxford, Mississippi and “Ole Miss,” North Grove Equestrian Park sits on 156 acres, with full care horse boarding, multiple paddocks for turnout, a variety of cross country jumps from beginner to preliminary level, and a large multipurpose outdoor arena. The multifaceted facility, open to all disciplines, has twenty 12 X 12 stalls, 15 of which house boarders and the rest are for the barn-owned horses. The Clubhouse features a full kitchen, conference room, TV, wireless internet, and restrooms with showers. Boarders include university students, as well as an ever-growing clientele of local equestrians at the stable.
Stable manager Missy Stierle brings over twenty-six years of experience managing stables and competing horses to work in the barn that is bustling with activity. She successfully competed on the “A” show circuit as a junior rider, and her experience includes a top placement in open jumpers at the American Quarter Horse World Championship show in 1993. Among her other equestrian experiences is foxhunting; Missy was a Whipper-In with Longreen Foxhounds, and she still has a fondness for fox hounds. At North Grove she is never too far from the watchful eyes of the friendly barn hound. She happily introduces each horse that we pass with a story about their experiences together.
Owner and mounted patrol officer (MPO) David Misenhelter is never more than a two-way radio call away from his responsibilities at his dream equine facility and serving Oxford on mounted patrol duty.
“It’s kind of a ‘build it and they will come’ situation,” says Misenhelter of the first-class equestrian park, centrally located so that one can trailer horses to world class competitions six hours away in any direction. The barn is within easy traveling distances from Lexington, Kentucky; St. Louis, Missouri; Gulfport, Mississippi; and Birmingham, Alabama.
Misenhelter credits the late Evie Tumlin of Oxford for making a positive impact on the mounted police of Oxford through her weekly dressage instruction to the MPO.
“The fundamentals of dressage create a harmonious relationship between horse and rider, thereby forming a strong team on duty,” he said of Tumlin’s influence on the mounted force.
Misenhelter fondly refers to “the Scotsman” as another inspirational trainer. “The Scotsman” is John Dalziel, who currently resides in Altoona, Florida after a distinguished career with both the United Kingdom Blues and Royals and City of London Mounted Police.
Misenhelter earned an instructor certification under the training of Dalziel, along with other outstanding trainers. In addition, all mounted officers in Oxford attend the annual training led by Dalziel at the Mobile Mardi Gras Mounted School in Mobile, Alabama.
“The instructor’s course was rightfully a demanding school. There was a strong emphasis on safety of the horse and rider and proper design of the lesson plan to create success. We had homework, prep work; we demonstrated proficiency in skills, and practiced teach-backs in front of a board of chief instructors until we got it right,” said Misenhelter.
Misenhelter‘s pride and joy is his mounted patrol horse Jax On Patrol (“Jax”). Jax is his steady mount in eventing, and Misenhelter and Jax travel to various events around the south and mid-south. North Grove hosts four combined tests this year, in March, June, September, and December.
Misenhelter credits the success at North Grove to his team and staff. Trainer and Dressage Instructor Heather Kennedy joined North Grove recently and brought her knowledge learned from world-class trainers in the U.S. and Germany. Kennedy trained at Klaus Balkenhol’s barn in Osterwick, Germany, where the trainers were Balkenhol, his daughter Anabel, and Stefan Wolff.
Kennedy recalled her experiences there: “They were amazingly welcoming and kind. Everything revolved around the horse’s well-being. It was an unbelievable experience! Here at North Grove, I hope to pass on what I have learned from all the brilliant riders and coaches that I have had the pleasure of working with, as I develop my personal horse through the levels. I feel very lucky to have landed at a barn with such great people here in Mississippi.”
Clients at North Grove Equestrian Park have interesting stories to share, and one stand-out is Ole Miss senior Robin Young.
Young, a member of the Ole Miss Equestrian Club, kept her horse Izak at a Shelby County, Tennessee stable where the pair successfully competed at mid-south shows. While attending college, Young moved her horse Izak to North Grove. There, barn manager Missy Stierle recognized Young’s special touch with horses. Stierle asked Young to take on her green horse named “Too” because the gelding had little experience under saddle, and Young happily took her up on the offer.
After a few months of riding Too, Stierle conspired with Young’s father and mother, who made their daughter’s dream come true by surprising her with Too as an early graduation present.
“I understand wholeheartedly that we all have so much to learn and benefit from horses if we allow ourselves to do so. I am so lucky that North Grove has given me the opportunity to do so while on my college journey,” Young said of her experience.
Misenhelter’s next goal is to construct an expansive cross-country course with a water complex to be designed by licensed builder Greg Schlappi.
North Grove will host a combined test for the Memphis Eventing group on December 4, 2021.
North Grove hosts regular clinicians throughout the year, such as Laura Lee Lesko, from Watch Hill Farms, and eventing professional Bill Hoos. In addition to equestrian activities, North Grove hosts weddings, birthday parties, and corporate events. Find more information at North Grove’s website: https://www.northgrovepark.com/.
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